Russell and Duenes

Private and Recreational

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One of the things that widespread use of The Pill, and contraception generally, has done is change our conception of the public nature of sexual intercourse; which is to say, we no longer see any public nature of it. Contraception literally gave force to the words, “What is done in the bedroom is none of your business.” For if there are not going to be any children forthcoming as the result of our sexual activity, then there need be no public expression or outworking of two people’s sexual union. It becomes entirely a private matter.

The further result of this is that intercourse also becomes recreational. As Catholic theologian, Janet Smith, once remarked, two people can now quite normally say to each other, “I want to have coffee with you; I want to see a movie with you; I want to play tennis with you; I want to have sex with you.” This is why young folks now have friends and “friends with benefits.” I mean, she’s hot, right? And we enjoy having sex, but I don’t want to commit to her or have kids with her or anything. Let’s just have some fun and call it a night. Sex, thus “unencumbered” by babies becomes one more recreational activity in our mad pursuit of cool and fun “experiences.” Of course we need to make all of the appropriate cautions, lest we be too one-sided in this analysis. Doubtless there are many couples who believe that their sexual relationship entails mutual love and commitment. But this commitment still only goes so far. For no thoughtful person can fail to miss the modern crucial distinction between saying to someone, “I want to have sex with you,” and “I want to have babies with you.”

These shifts have not happened overnight, but they are here. It should give us pause to consider whether they are improvements in our way of being.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

May 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm

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